Floating point standards

Most people probably don't think much about how computers handle "floating point" (numbers with "dots" in them as one of my old managers used to say). Ever since the IEEE 754 Standard hit the streets, the quality of computer arithmetic improved so much that people can often take it for granted. This is not entirely a GoodThing.

For a good introduction on the issues, the classic paper by David Goldberg "What Every Computer Scientist Should Know about Computer Arithmetic" ought to be required reading. Copies can be found at docs.sun.com I've pointed at a reasonably current html version. I find some of the older pdf versions easier to read. Search for "goldberg" at the docs.sun.com top level and poke around.

For those who want to know what the "sequel" may look like, the IEEE committee continues to toil (largely unthanked, and unknown). You can see some of their work here




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